When it comes to our well-being, mental health is just as important as physical health – American Psychological Association.
Looking after your mental health
When it comes to looking after ourselves, we pay attention to our:
- hygiene & exercise (body),
- psyche or self-care (mind) or
- body & mind at the same time (mind-body).
There are various ways of looking after your mental health and taking care of yourself, during your day-to-day activities and during guided health or fitness activities, such as a good night’s rest or doing workouts.
Doing the things that relax you has a positive effect on your mental health. They restore your balance. Gardening, taking a hot shower, cooking, or listening to music can be therapeutic activities, but what gives you comfort and energy remains something personal. It’s good to keep that in mind.
When restorative practices don’t or no longer work for you
Seek psychological care if you are worried about your mental health, especially if you experience a lot of psychological discomfort in your daily life, such as trouble sleeping. As a first step, make an appointment with your primary care doctor. Even if you don’t want medication (yet), it helps to talk about problems from the start.
Psychological care focuses on treating and preventing disturbances in the normal functioning of the mind. Disturbances include psychological problems, symptoms and disorders.
By law, psychological care refers to mental health services related to specific mental health diagnoses (GGZ). And in health insurance policies, these services fall under the category of psychological care.
The following professions are involved in psychological care:
- A General Practitioner or Primary Care Doctor.
- Mental health Care Psychologist.
- Psychotherapist or therapist.
- Clinical (neuro)psychologist.
For psychological care, you can go to a therapist and mental health institutions.
As a first step, make an appointment with your primary care doctor. The doctor (and doctor’s surgery team) will assess your mental health and determine whether psychological care is necessary.
If psychological care is not considered necessary, your doctor will inform you of other services that can help you look after your mental health.
Psychotherapist or Psychologist
There are differences between professional psychologists. Some psychologists treat people and are called practitioner psychologists or (psycho)therapists. Other psychologists are otherwise involved in mental health care. And some psychologists do not provide psychological care.
Psychotherapists are both professional psychologists and practitioner psychologists. They are psychologists who also have specialised in psychotherapeutic techniques and mental illness treatment.
Other practitioner psychologists include primary psychologists, secondary psychologists and mental health care psychologists.
Psychotherapist and mental health care psychologist are also protected professional titles registered in the BIG register of health care professions. And by law, practitioner psychologists must be registered to use these titles.
Psychologists also have other roles in psychological care. Psychologists conduct psychological assessments to determine a diagnosis. Psychologists can also work in the position of primary care mental health worker from the general practice. Or have a role within other types of health care institutions.
Psychologist: Behavioural expertise
Psychology focuses on studying, understanding, and influencing human behaviour to bring about positive change and solve problems in society and many other areas of human activity.
Psychologists work wherever knowledge about human behaviour is needed. Many of the challenges we face are rooted in human behaviour. Psychological knowledge can help us find solutions to these challenges.
Each academically trained psychologist is a behavioural expert. Psychologists are experts in the human mind, emotions and behaviour and know how various circumstances influence people.
Whatever the problem, the psychologist will use a scientific approach to determine the likely cause and what is likely to help.
Psychologist, so you treat disorders….
Individuals or organisations can consult with a psychologist to deepen their knowledge and understanding of human behaviour.
Many psychologists work beyond psychological care. Psychologists also work in the advertising world, for example. Or write books to share their knowledge.
Psychologists use their knowledge and skills as instructors, researchers or consultants. For example, psychologists may provide work-related advice, such as improving customer service and even architectural design. Or they offer support in recruitment and selection and the development of assessment tools.
A psychologist can also work as a coach and guide clients in their personal or professional development.
A psychologist who provides psychotherapy will indicate this her/himself.
Mental Health Services
The doctor as the first point of contact for physical and mental health
If you think you need psychological care, it is advisable to contact your primary care doctor or general practitioner.
Even if you don’t want medication (yet), it helps to talk about problems from the start.
General Practitioner Care: psychological help via the GP
Help may also be available at the practice itself. Talking to a health professional can help restore balance and improve your mental health strategies.
The general practitioner treats medical conditions him/herself and has care provided by support staff at the doctor’s surgery.
Many doctor’s surgeries also have a mental health worker who can help you with psychological tips and advice. You can also discuss subjects such as grief, relationships and problems at work.
Referral to Psychological care: GGZ Treatment Programme
The GP (and support staff) will assess your symptoms. And the GP will determine if a GGZ Treatment Programme is necessary. If so, you will receive a referral to a mental health care institution (GGZ).
What to expect from psychological treatment beyond the doctor’s surgery
Before a treatment program begins, the therapist will work with you to determine the problem (request for help and diagnosis). Your first appointment is for an intake and a psychological assessment.
The assessment results will come in. And what can be done is considered next (treatment). It will also be decided where treatment is taking place (referral).
To see if the treatment is successful, you and the therapist regularly discuss it (evaluation moments). – Nederlands Instituut van Psychologen (NIP)
Mental health emergency and Crisis Care
In case of a mental health crisis or emergency, you should call the GP. If you have an after-hours emergency, contact the after-hours GP (huisartsenpost).
Always available, 7 days a week, day and night:
Limited access, check the website for accessibility:
Further information on psychological treatment
> Read more about mental illness on the following sites:
- Thuisarts:Hulp bij psychische klachten bij volwassenen (mental health problems support for adults)
- Psychipedia van Mind: Psychische klachten A t/m Z (Psychological problems from A to Z)
> More information about strategies to look after your mental health
Runningtherapy: Personal running programme focussed on the body, mind and well-being.